Here be the premise: I, (that is me, Stewart Williams, sometime contributor to this biomechanical parish), have been set a once-monthly challenge. The esteemed Weebl will, every 30 days or so, send me ten subjects. Then I write about them.
No really, that’s it.
I can write whatever I like – gags, anecdotes, stories, scripts, whatever. I just have to write about them. I don’t need to know anything about them. I just have to write about them. What I write doesn’t have to make sense I just... yep, you’ve got the idea.
And most importantly – you don’t have to read them. Not if you don’t want to. Its not like there’s a gun to your head or anything.
Anyhoo – here’s the first installment of what we’re calling, (for want of any better title):
THE MIGHTY TEN
The first MIGHTY TEN…?
I have nothing against the noble goat, (or its lactate), whatsoever. Indeed, I have nibbled on the odd block of feta at salient points in my culinary existence – got it going with some olives, maybe a few loose leaves, all that business.
Yep, feta cheese is a tasty, salty, (oddly dry) party in the world’s mouth – I have no beef with feta cheese. Either metaphorically or literally. No no no no no no – I am freaked out by feta on a wholly conceptual level.
While I accept its existence and even embrace it, the one thing that bothers me about feta cheese is: HOW does it exist? With perhaps a subdivision involving WHY? too. You see – it’s rancid goat’s milk. Cheese, right? Cheese is rancid cow’s milk. Something is clearly amiss.
Now, I’m not being a dairy fascist here – I simply want to know how, of all the fabulous beasts in God’s majestic menagerie, the fucking goat gets called off the bench when the cheese supplies are depleted? Why, in the heady mists of time, did some brave soul decree that the goat’s foaming teat be the one milked into a bucket and left to go off with some other old bollocks I do not and will not ever attempt to understand, thereby rendering it a solid block o’ cheese? Was it a system of trial and error? Were other animals considered? At some point in history, was there a cheese laboratory – a laboratoire fromage, if you will - much like the one with the tubes full of fucked up Sigourney Weaver clones in ‘Alien Resurrection’. full of abortive mutant cheeses too hideous to grace the palettes of mankind? Dog cheese? Mouse cheese? Gibbon cheese? Even, God forbid… man cheese?
I fear we shall never know. Unless some brave soul researches the ancient texts, draws forth the arcane recipes for a veritable Noah’s Ark of cheese, and sets forth on this voyage of dairy discovery.
(Mind you, what’s the sodding point when you could just go to Sainsburys instead…?)
THE ART OF ANISH KAPUR
You say ‘Kapur’, I say ‘Kapoor’. Either way, it’s a pile of fucking sticks that looks a bit like a fanny.
Ah, I must confess to being unnecessarily flippant about the sterling work of Mr K. I can dig it. I have zero beef with it. However, it does represent everything that’s wrong with Art School to me – and I speak from experience, having been to one. A very shitty one – but one nevertheless.
As a ‘yoot’, I went to an art college – since burnt down, I believe – to cop a ‘Foundation In Art & Design’ in order to move on to a degree course. I was told that that was the path to follow if I wanted to do an art degree of any kind; this isn’t necessarily true, but it did all work out okay for me. Anyhoo – what I found there was not, as one would imagine, a happy all-encompassing commune indulging in a free exchange of ideas and embracing creativity. Nope. It was little more than a microcosmic hierarchy of arseholes – the Fine Art faculty looked down on Photography and Graphics and Fashion Design as, for want of a better word, ‘shit’.
Whatever his subjective opinion of the assorted mediums, the bloke in charge – a fine artist by trade - should in theory have been objectively steering his charges towards their true path, right? Wrong. He was a cunt of the highest water, sneering at and taking little interest in anyone outside of his tiny coterie – mostly lads who could score weed for him and/or worship his faded tales of having met some famous artist in the mid-70’s they’d just read a book about. Most of them were staggeringly inept on a fundamental artistic level, but they served his personal needs. Speaking of which…
Unsurprisingly, slightly confused young women pretending to be ‘alternative’ were welcomed without question into his Fine Art Inner Sanctum, whatever their abilities – and some of them were just fucking shit. Providing your tits were perky and you looked like you might be having some ‘issues’, the head tutor, who we’ll call ‘Phil’, would lay down a carpet of bullshit and hashish leading directly to the end of his dick.
(Incidentally, we’re calling him ‘Phil’ ‘cos that was his fucking name…)
He’d worked with some famous sculptor or other in the 60’s, and done pretty much jack-shit in the subsequent decades, other than wheel out the same old stories to a new batch of gullible twats every 365 days. Then fuck them. One girl was allowed to return to the (one year) course for three years in a row, having failed to get onto a degree course on the grounds she was evidently just no good. But Phil could see something in her. His cock, obviously.
Despite the apparent bitterness inherent in this tirade, my problem with the whole thing wasn’t that I wasn’t getting any – it was that this bloke had reduced his role in education to a means of scoring ass, thereby treating every single one of us students with nothing but contempt – especially the ones he screwed.
Frankly, the rule-of-thumb was: students in his charge doing anything other than Fine Art could Fuck Right Off. He disparaged the Fashion Design girls as sluts and idiots – despite (or because of) them being the attractive women who didn’t sleep with him. He even told the photography tutor that he was a failed artist, because he chose the camera as his weapon of choice. I was informed by the one girl doing Fine Art who never boned him, (but by Christ did he try), that he had predicted to his pals – my fellow students – on the day before my interview to get on a film-making degree course, that I would never be accepted because I was ‘fucking shit’.
Of course I got on the degree course. I am Rock. Hear my roar. Told Phil to fuck himself. Left that self-perpetuating parade of shitheels behind, to carry on moldering away in their ever-decreasing pit of self-delusion…
…Only to discover that the degree course was largely the same ol’ same ol’. My buddy Paul – now a highly successful TV producer/director, with a feature film directing gig in the pipeline – was asked to leave the course at the start of the second year by the gent in charge; an, ahem, ‘experimental filmmaker’ au nom de Tony. Paul’s crime? He made a pop video - an elaborate seven-minute-long split-screen affair (ie. 14 minutes of editing in all, culled from hours of footage), that, purely on a technical level alone, was worthy of merit. Paul had worked his arse off on it, but Our Tone reckoned he’d been slacking because he’d ‘just made a pop video’.
(Incidentally – Tony was as much, if not more, of a pompous, favouritism-playing, commerciality-hating fuck as Phil - but he never humped the students. I’ll give him that.)
Meanwhile, a girl on our course I was going out with had done a 90-second film about Muslim prayer ceremonies. It wasn’t very good. But she was a Girl Of Colour. It was about Muslim prayer ceremonies. Not a bad word said. Highest mark awarded. But… but… it was shit! Badly made, essentially pointless, she’d clearly made no effort and knocked it up in the last week before deadline and got away with it. Now, I’m theoretically plummeting headlong into a world of hurt here – bigot, fascist, sexist, all the harsh words that generally end with a ‘T’ – but, because she was my girlfriend at that time, I had been privy to this particular sentence…
“We’ve got a week before deadline and I’ve not done anything. I can’t think of anything. I’ll just do something about Muslim prayer ceremonies. I know its rubbish, but I’ve got to hand something in, and they’ll not slag it off if it’s about that”.
So, all power to her actually – she played ‘em like a fucking fiddle. I have no beef with that. If anything, I have ultimate respect for it. It just highlighted that whole state of being whereby self-perceived ‘intellect’ can blind somebody – Tony in this instance – to the degree where they’re actually revealed as very stupid. Y’know, sometimes, art isn’t ‘ART’ in big capital letters – sometimes, it’s just somebody getting away with it. And if you can’t accept that a pop video might contain passion and vitality and intelligence just because it doesn’t wear a big badge saying ‘I AM DEEP’ so is therefore ‘beneath you’ – you are a fucking clown sir.
Anyhoo – a few of us talked Paul out of leaving. He stayed the course and Grandstanded like a motherfucker at our degree show with an award-winning short film and a show-off video installation that we all secretly knew was about fuck all but looked pretty. Now he makes telly. Comedy mostly. I occasionally work with him. I also – in a strictly non-bumming manner – share a flat with him.
The girl I was dating dumped me, accused me of giving her The Clap, (I didn’t), and disappeared until last year, when I bumped into her by chance at Highbury & Islington Corner, looking disappointingly old and fat. Hey, I’ve always looked old and fat – for her it wouldn’t have been disappointing, just mildly alarming. She works in production management – ie. the distinctly unsexy, non-creative side of television involving lots of tables and adding up.
Meanwhile, Tony sacked off the degree teaching and went back to ‘his art’. Of course, experimental film making doesn’t exactly pay well, so he prostituted himself for a few bucks…
Making pop videos.
NEW IKEA CATALOGUE
I want the Lillberg rocking chair, priced £65.00. However, I have no means of transport beyond the Tube, and my nearest Ikea is on some fucking ringroad so far away it might as well be on the surface of the planet Neptune. That’s me fucked then.
The IKEA FAQ Chatbot has this to say on the subject of ordering over the internet: “You cannot purchase IKEA products on the web yet. We will only launch on-line shopping in the UK when we can ensure we have an adequate infrastructure in place.”
Despite the fact they have anthropomorphized the IKEA FAQ Chatbot by giving it a graphic representation of a generic blonde girl’s head – which, somewhat disconcertingly, blinks – this doesn’t make my lack of Lillberg rocking chair any less bitter a pill to swallow. However, in attempting to salvage something from my chair-quest, I typed the supremely puerile sentence “fancy a shag?” into the IKEA FAQ Chatbot question box.
“It's certainly an interesting subject, but I'd rather not talk about it if you don’t mind” was her coquettish response.
Thinking I was being somewhat abstract – thereby blowing the IKEA FAQ Chatbot’s tiny computer mind - I next ventured: “Might I purchase a sausage?”
Annoyingly logically, she responded,: “To which IKEA store are you referring to when asking about the restaurant?”
Next, I decided to go freeform Slam Poetry on her robotic ass with: “Trousers”.
She cock-blocked such foolishness with: “I'm sure what you said made perfect sense, but I don't understand every little thing. Perhaps you could rephrase your question or comment and I'll be able to give you a better answer.”
Realizing I was now experiencing relationship issues with an automated reply-droid, I started to feel a tad foolish and decided to quit while I was ahead. But before I regained some semblance of a life, time for one last Big Question, eh?
Hence: “What is God?”
Implying that the IKEA FAQ Chatbot may possibly be clawing her way towards a kind of proto-sentience, (but has not yet learnt about the concept of Religion), she parried with: “I don't know the answer to that question yet, I am sorry. Please contact your local store for help on the issue.”
Well. I would contact my local store, but its fucking miles away as we’ve already established, so not only do I not have my Lillberg rocking chair, but the fundamental question of the nature of deity remains unanswered too.
Thanks for nothing IKEA…
A DAY AT THE BANGER RACING
One of my earliest memories – and this is 100% true, no word of a lie nor nothing, madam – is briefly waking up during a family trip to some sort of stock car racing thing. Then going back to sleep.
My mother occasionally relates the tale of me snoozing through said vehicular hootenanny, so I know it happened. We’d been taken there by my dad’s Uncle Ernie, aka ‘Tin Legs’ on the grounds he’d got, erm… tin legs. Two of ‘em. Metal limbs, to replace ones he’d lost during the war; not IN the war, please note – but DURING it. There is a difference. The war was going on, but he been turned down for some shoddy medical reason and was well out of it, working in a factory, when something blew up in an entirely un-war-related incident and walloped the things off. Not much fun, however you look at it; so why the behind-the-back monicker ‘Tin Legs’, rather than a smidgeon of respect? Because, despite his disability, he was an absolute dick.
He’d been an absolute dick with all of his own legs, by all accounts, so nobody awarded him special dispensation for absolute dickishness post-accident either – he’d pretty much established his dick credentials by then. But I digress – banger racing. Proper noisy it was, too, by all accounts. How I – at this point a small toddler, and in no way, shape or form deaf – slept thru it, I will never know. But I did.
This could be an early indication of my life-long lack of interest in cars. Or at least, a reasonable-enough means of segueing into turning this round into something I know about – ie. NOT knowing about cars. Result!
Now, this gaping hole in my man-sense, coupled with my singular failure to wish to understand or be remotely engaged by football, marks me out to most of my fellow men as a Dangerous Homosexual. The fact I am unable to grasp how or why a clutch works, nor give a flying fuck about goal averages or transfer windows, means I might as well pull on some pleatherette chaps and join fucking Erasure as far as most blokes are concerned.
I can dig this.
But allow me to assure you, ladies and gentlemen – I am all about the clam. I like my women like I like my coffee – black, imported from the 3rd world, and at an exploitedly low price.
(Oh do forgive me, that was just a line I’ve wanted to use for a long time, so I dropped it in there…)
BILL CLINTON’S BOOK
It’s called ‘My Life’. It’s an autobiography. Fascinating though I’m sure it is, let’s be honest – we’re all in it for the bit circa 1998 where he fucks Monica Lewinsky. To be even more specific – the bit where she sticks the cigar up her tuppence.
Its not like I intend to crack one out over it, I’m just curious to see how he describes this momentous (and not desperately hygienic) event.
Thing is, Monica’s one hefty bitch; in my mind I already have an image – and it sure ain’t sexy. In my terrifying interior world, that solitary cigar nestling amongst her vulvic folds isn’t some sensuous vision to behold – it looks like Luke Skywalker squatting in the hollowed-out intestinal cavity of his dead Tauntaun following a near-fatal attack by a deadly Wampa monster on the frozen ice planet of Hoth.
(I bet that’s just how Bill describes it too…)
Cable News Network. News. Cable. Cable News. Hmmm…
Okay, a quick anecdote; I was in a room with five comedy writers a fortnight after the somewhat awful London transport bombings. While watching a cable news channel, (Sky News to be honest, but nevertheless), two of the comedy writers came up with an ironic idea. In the wake of pro-disability/not-funny ‘in your face’ comedy show ‘I Am Spasticus’, they reckoned it would be a shoo-in for a Channel 4 comedy commission if Al Jazeera pitched a sketch show about Al Qaeda.
I didn’t think this was incredibly funny. But then I suggested Al Jarreau of ‘Moonlighting’ fame write the theme song.
The world suddenly seemed a brighter place.
FUCK EuroDisney, I say. I don’t like amusement parks. The rides make me think I’m about to die at any moment. At the very least they make me want to vomit or, indeed, just plain vomit. Where’s the fun in that? When I was a kid, I actively did not enjoy going to fairs, carnivals, Alton Towers, Disney World, Disney Land, any of those fucking places – thanks to this innate, curmudgeonly sense of (slightly irrational) self-preservation.
Also – people dressed in plush cartoon animal suits looked shit to me even when I was four. Bear in mind – I was 4 in 1977, and taken to see ‘Star Wars’ on first release at that tender, impressionable age. After an Imperial Star Destroyer has just passed over your head firing laser bolts, some cunt dressed as ‘Piglet’ just don’t cut it, know what I mean?
But that’s not to say my youth was a self-imposed whirlpool of never leaving the bleedin’ house. When it came to outdoor pursuits, I was kickin’ it Old School, as the kids say. I didn’t need rides and rollercoasters and waltzers to have a good time – I was digging on dangerous predators ‘n’ shit. Yep… I was going to the zoo. Dudley Zoo, to be exact.
Dudley Zoo used to be one of my favourite places when I was little, then I went there last year, and they’d fucked it up. The wall on the wolf enclosure had fallen down, and it backed on to the main road, so there was apparently a pack of wolves roaming the town centre, which is pretty cool, but apparently quite dangerous; so they replaced the wolf enclosure with a children’s petting zoo, which is all well and good, but a pack of ravenous predators is slightly more impressive than a baby goat in a bucket. And they’d got rid of the aquarium as well; how fucking expensive can it be to maintain the upkeep of some fish? And the orangutan had died and the gorilla had been sent to another zoo, so rather than get new ones, they just sort of… spread the chimps out a bit. One of the cappucine monkeys was biting off its own fingers, and one of the polar bears was having a mental breakdown, which is apparently characterised by them walking backwards and forwards and shitting everywhere. Which it was doing. Although how they knew it was having a mental breakdown because it was walking backwards and forwards and shitting everywhere is beyond me. As two basic motor functions of most land-based living things, I don’t know how it marks the polar bear out as particularly crackers, but fuck it, I’m not a polar bear psychiatrist, what do I know?
See, people get all confused around animals, trying to make them into little humans with little human traits – like, no, when a monkey’s smiling he’s not happy, he’s preparing to rip your fucking head off. He’s an angry fucking monkey, out for revenge after the years of emancipation he and his fellow monkey brothers have felt at the hands of man, forcing them to drink tea and shift pianos. And I can tell you from grim experience – don’t stare at a gorilla. I stared at one for 45 minutes at Dudley Zoo when I was a kid, and the bastard threw himself at the glass to get at me. Very paranoid animals, gorillas. But you would be if you were the size of a family car with a two-inch cock, I suppose. I know I am.
And just because an animal’s pretty, it doesn’t mean they’re any better than any other animal. Cows have got nice lady’s eyelashes, and they’re very pretty and they’ve got nice pink tongues, but man, cows are just beef waiting to happen. It’s been scientifically proven that their farts are destroying the ozone layer. It’s also been scientifically proven that they taste nice. So fuck ‘em.
Like, a ladybird is just a fucking beetle, so smash its brains out like you would any of the other hideous mandibled fuckers who start crawling about. And a butterfly is just a moth in a nice coat, don’t cut it any slack. Smack it with a slipper or a rolled up paper. Fuck ‘em. They’d do it it to you if they were big enough. Look at the shark. An inch long shark – no hassle. Ten to fifteen feet – nibbling your bits off, giving it all that, ‘oh sorry mate, thought you were a seal, here’s your intestines back’.
And all that about sharks only attacking humans because we look like seals from below? No, from below, we look like bags of blood and meat. They know what seals look like, and they know what men look like; they’re not stupid, they just don’t give a fuck. Sharks don’t mistake us for anything; they just know they can have us in a scrap. They’re sharks. Some of ‘em have got heads shaped like hammers, for fuck’s sake. Why…?
…Dunno! God builds a shark – the most terrifying, all-consuming razor-mouthed killing machine on earth - then thinks ‘hang on a minute, I’ll make his head look like a fucking hammer’. It’s not like the shark looked gay before its head turned into a hammer. That’s just God showing off – ‘he can fuck you up anyway you look at it, but to be double-hard, his head is also shaped like an implement that could smack your fucking head in if he fancied it too, sunshine’.
The only logical explanation for a Hammerhead shark is that it exists solely to really point out the shark’s predatory superiority to Man; like, even if they don’t eat you whole, they can still challenge your masculinity by knocking up a flat-pack shelving unit, in double-quick time. They ain’t as stupid as you think, sharks.
Still, I reckon I could take one in a game of Jenga.
A SELECTION OF GOURMET SAUSAGES
I hadn’t used to like sausages when I was a kid. I didn’t like the way the skin bursts open between your teeth as you bite into them. Equally, I went off tomatoes for a very long time, for exactly the same reason. I also had a major downer on eggs for a couple of years – based, to be honest, on my mother somewhat idly under-frying one, and the outer skin on the yolk having some sort of filmy, blue-veined look to it. I also used to devour jars of cockles in vinegar as a kid, and didn’t ever stop to contemplate what all of the weirdly-shaped dark bits and pipe-y lookin’ shit might actually be in terms of a cockle as an actual once-living creature; nope, the only thing that put me off ‘em was copping a huge dose of the shits off a dodgy jar of the aquatic bastards.
But then I grew pubes and stopped being a culinary bigot, and started eating sausages, tomatoes, eggs, (no cockles, mind), and all manner of fucked-up shit I, as a little kid, would never have plowed into my gullet. Anything and everything I would eat… except baby octopus.
I had a seafood salad in France with a few sprinkled on it in 1999. Prince never fucking sang about eating baby octopuses in his popular hit of the same name, did he! No, he fucking didn’t! And if Prince ain’t diggin’ on the baby octopus, I ain’t diggin’ on the baby octopus, know what I’m sayin’?
I scooped ‘em off and binned ‘em. I couldn’t get over the fact I was eating an entire animal. Or fish. Or whatever the fuck it is. I’m pretty sure it’s not a mammal; I’m damn certain an octopus doesn’t have tits. But anyway - it made me feel slightly dizzy. It’d be like picking up a tiny cow and eating it whole, know what I mean? It just doesn’t seem right. Imagine a plate of miniscule cooked cows, no bigger than an inch per beast, lying there steaming with four tiny legs sticking up in the air, then popping the whole thing - udders, horns, teeny little cowbell, the whole damn thing - into your mouth, and just… chewing it up.
It just seems somehow ungodly – it certainly defies all known laws of physics, that’s fo’ sho’!
It’d be like living in the Land Of The Giants. Except not quite, because we’d be normal sized, and it’s the cows that would be little….
…OR IS IT? Maybe the cows are the right size and it’s US who have grown to Brobdingnagian proportions! Maybe the cows are the only ones who know the REAL truth.
(Of course, seeing as absolutely everything else in existence is the same general comparative scale except for the cows, its safe to say that, no, its likely that they have in fact shrunk, thereby indicating that the cows don’t know shit.)
THE FILMS OF JET LEE
I categorically hate Kung Fu films. Almost as much as I hate Jazz. That’s the music not the aftershave, by the way. Dunno why, but try as I might, I’ve never been able to get into two Asiatic dudes slapping fuck out of each other. I can dig Bruce Lee’s sweet Adidas tracksuit, but his films? Nein danke.
As such, my exposure to Jet Li extends to ‘Lethal Weapon 4’. Man, that film fucking sucked. Joe Pesci all teary-eyed, proclaiming the mad/black/too old for this shit duo his ‘family’ - that went beyond the worst South American Snuff movie in terms of its audiovisual atrocity. I would sooner have my eyes clamped open and watch a group of six-year-old girls take on a hungry alligator in a pit than have ‘LW4’ darken my orbs ever again. But I digress…
So – we can safely say I know shit about Jet Li. Which is why I’m playing my get Out Of Jail Free card, and working the typo angle on this – he was only credited as ‘Jet Lee’ on two movies, and seeing as that was the exact spelling on the subject chucked into my mind-cage for consumption, that’s all I’m bothering with.
Ah screw you.
Anyway, first up:
Long zai tia ya (1988)
... aka Dragon Fight
... aka Dragon Kickboxer
Jet plays Jimmy Lee. I can’t even be ballsed to read the individual plot description on IMDB, so taking a wild guess, I’d say he’s an innocent man caught up in some sort of battle with evil-doers, most likely involving kickboxing.
Actually, between that paragraph and this, I felt a twinge of guilt and looked it up on IMDB after all. According to one fan comment, (who says that the action is ‘quite good’ – there’s unbridled enthusiasm for you), the film “provides a fairly interesting view of what Asian capitalist political separatists think America is like.” Cool.
Definitely won’t be watching that then.
And the second (and final) flick in Jet Lee’s oeuvre? Why, none other than that timeless classic:
Wong Fei-hung chi tit gai dau neung gung (1993)
... aka Huang Fei-Hong zhi tie ji dou wu gong
... aka Tie ji dou wu gong
... aka Last Hero in China
... aka Claws of Steel
... aka Deadly China Hero
... aka Iron Rooster Vs. the Centipede
Jet essays the role of ‘Wong Fei-hung’, by all accounts. Once again, fuck only knows what happens in the movie. A viewer makes this comment on IMDB: “The movie over all was good besides the fact you had to read.” For Christ’s sake…
A further snuffle around IMDB thankfully offers this capsule rundown of salient points: “Jet Li stars in this comic spectacle as a Chinese "Robin Hood" who stumbles upon a kidnapping scheme after unwittingly opening a martial arts school next to a brothel.” Great. Saves me having to watch it.
The most intriguing thing about this no-doubt by-the-numbers punch-kick shit-fest is its array of alternate titles. The first couple are in bleedin’ Mandarin or whatever, therefore beyond my sphere of comprehension; never trust a language named after a tiny orange, that’s my motto. ‘Last Hero In China’ is frankly a bit dull. But the last three? They sound like a particularly exciting episode of ‘Robot Wars’ waiting to happen…
“Oooooh, Claws Of Steel sinks those sharpened metal pincers of his into Deadly China Hero’s ceramic outer layer; those tiles might give 100% protection to the space shuttle on reentry into Earth’s fiery outer atmosphere – but they do nothing against those evil steel claws! Look at Deadly China Hero SHATTER!!!”
“And coming up next, the Battle Royale we’ve all been waiting for: Iron Rooster versus The Centipede!!!”
Cue some fat nerds in matching Viking Helmets guiding in a remote-controlled death machine painted up like a fucking chicken…
SONY CUSTOMER SERVICES
I have only one question for Sony Customer Services: “What is God?”
‘Cos IKEA were fucking useless.
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